KANSAS / STYX
Museumplatz, Bonn, Germany; 06/24/05


Reviewed by Edwin Van Hoof

What a setting and what a day this is! Museumplatz in Bonn is based in the art district of the former capitol of Western Germany, right in the center of town. The stage is a spanning ¾ tent built in the largest museum's square, surrounded by magnificent architecture. The surrounding and extraordinary setting seems to provide extra energy for both bands to boost this gig into oblivion. The sizzling temperature of over 90 degrees combined with two of classic rock's finest, ensures a large audience that will soon boil.

Opening this special event is Kansas who find themselves struggling with technical difficulties during their set. Proving their professional character, they don't let it disrupt their show in any way. Though frowning and signaling each other and their stagehands constantly, Walsh and his troops are still clearly enjoying the enthusiastic response. Their set is packed with the obvious classics like "Icarus," an inspiring version of "Belexus," "The Pinnacle" and the marvelous and swirling "Carry On Wayward Son."

Steve's voice still holds up marvelously after all these years of constant touring. Coloring the sound is without doubt the brilliant and inspired guitar work of Richard Williams, who has lost some weight since their last visit, but now sports an eye-patch. This friendly yet introverted personality always seems to enjoy himself on stage. But it is Ehart that stands out tonight. Hammering away his mighty complex drum-structures, this master is enjoying every minute of it.. When the band hits "Point of No Return," it seems to unleash an extra trigger of happiness in the crowd. This earns the band an encore in the classic guitar ballad "Dust in the Wind", one of the finest songs ever, that wraps up this one hour set. Both band and audience are already bathing in sweat thanks to the inspired performance and sunny day.

With these temperatures at hand and an opening act like Kansas, it doesn't take long for this show to reach its boiling point. Styx enters the stage with "Too Much Time on My Hands," one of my all time favorite tracks, which makes an instant statement. "Crystal Ball," "Fooling Yourself" and the magnificent "Rocking the Paradise" are easily blended with tracks from the new "Big Bang Theory" CD. Every track was celebrated tonight in Bonn! 

I admit that I was truly surprised to hear "I Am the Walrus" played live. Not because it was on the set-list, but the way it was performed. It truly changed my point of view on the review of the disc. It was such a blast of enthusiasm, that it made me shiver. Without any doubt, the crowd only added fuel to the sky high burning fire. It was fun to see the band enjoying themselves and the interaction only went smoother during the long show. 

With the always pleasant stage rage Mr. James Young and the charismatic Shaw with his recognizable and crystal clear voice; you have all the ingredients to uplift it even more. Sucherman provided the thundering and rock solid foundation. Amongst these defenders of the Styx legacy, another show master claims the stage; Lawrence Gowan! His personality combined with his humor and Polaroid camera (!) are two ingredients that make Styx stand out in classic rock to this day. How tough is it to replace a voice and performer like Dennis DeYoung?! Gowan does just that. Never trying to copy his predecessor, his voice comes close to that of the master (just close your eyes and listen) and his ongoing energy makes you forget the old days (well, almost). Add to that the newer addition of Mr. Ricky Philips (THE BABYS, BAD ENGLISH, etc.), and you again have an all star line up. Philips easily matches the profile of a Styx member, even better than Burtnik perhaps. 

And yes, throughout the set, it keeps evolving. The band seems to grow out of proportion, and the ongoing stream of rock classics that are fired upon us, gets better and better by the minute. Even I start to rave when co-founder and bass player extraordinaire Chuck Panoza makes his guest appearance. The applause following his entrance is almost explosive. The many true fans celebrate the return of a legend on German soil! His appearance also brings a switch of instruments onstage. With Philips also strapping on a guitar, we now have ourselves a triple axe attack on stage!

The band easily continues their high rise of melodic rock for the many minutes to follow. From the full frontal rock attack of "Renegade" and "Miss America," using a swift fly over to "Lorelei," "Suite Madame Blue" and the remarkable "Come Sail Away," this set is overloaded with history! A breathtaking intimate moment follows when the German mega hit "Boat On the River" and the absolutely astonishing "Can't Find My Way Home" are played acoustically, in front of a dead silent audience. After this intimacy, it is time to speed up again and fire away more Styx history. "Lady," "Blue Collar Man", "Snow Blind" and so on. It is an ongoing stream of power and passion. 

The audience can't get enough, but after more than two hours, it is time to wrap it up for this year. Many encores follow and the band throws tons of Frisbees, towels, shirts, picks and sticks into the crowd to say ‘thank you.' The gifts are gladly accepted by the many fans that will hang out long after the area is cleared by the bouncers. 

Styx is easily the best concert band in the world.

Believe it or not ... they did not play "Babe" ... something we noticed when driving home. Did we miss it? I still haven't figured that out, to be honest ...


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Revised: 23 Aug 2016 22:57:16 -0400.